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You Can Overcome an Out-of-State Business’ Attempt to Avoid an Illinois Lawsuit Based on ‘Personal Jurisdiction’

When you are injured in a car crash, your lawsuit may be as simple as suing the other driver involved in the accident. When your accident, however, involves a vehicle like a semi-truck, a bus or a commercial airplane, your case may involve many more defendants, especially if a mechanical flaw or malfunction in the large vehicle is one of the crash’s alleged causes. In either situation, but especially in the latter scenario, you need the skill and knowledge of an experienced Chicago injury attorney. Your knowledgeable injury attorney can help you overcome the various roadblocks the defense may try to place in your way, such as challenges based upon personal jurisdiction.

If you’re injured (or a loved one dies) as a result of a plane crash, there may be a large number of people and entities who were potentially negligent and possibly owe you compensation for the harm you suffered. Some of them may be out-of-state businesses and may have relatively limited interaction with Illinois. Based on that, they may claim they cannot be sued in this state.

The law in Illinois, however, often says otherwise. A recent case originating here in Cook County is a good example. In the late hours of April 6, 2015, a Cessna bound for Bloomington, Illinois left Indianapolis, Indiana. In the early morning hours of April 7, the plane crashed roughly one mile northeast of the airport. All seven men aboard the plane tragically died in the crash

The families of the seven victims sued numerous corporate defendants in Illinois state court, alleging that each was negligent and that the negligence had contributed to the crash. One of those entities was an aircraft engine overhaul business based in Texas. The lawsuit asserted that the Texas business “negligently overhauled, repaired, and tested the plane’s controller, left engine, and other parts.”

The Texas company tried to avoid any potential liability in the case by arguing that the court in Chicago could not pass judgment over it. The Illinois state courts, the defendant argued, lacked personal jurisdiction over it. To back this argument, the company presented evidence that it did nearly 100% of its work in Texas, and that it had no office, property, assets or business registration in Illinois.

The out-of-state business ‘benefitted from Illinois’ system of laws’ and ‘business climate’

The trial judge in Cook County rejected that argument, and so did the Illinois Appellate Court. Illinois law is clear on this subject, and the law says that, if you are hurt (or a loved one killed) due to a business entity’s negligence, you potentially can sue them in Illinois even if they had “no office, assets, property, or employees in Illinois,” nor a “license to do business in Illinois.”

Back in 2013, the estate of a helicopter pilot sought to sue a French company that had manufactured the bearing used in the helicopter that crashed. Even though the bearing manufacturer had never sold helicopter bearings to any United States customers, it had sold other aircraft bearings in the USA, including to a company with a division located in Illinois. That, according to the court, meant that the bearing manufacturer “benefitted from Illinois’ system of laws, infrastructure, and business climate,” even though the only role the Illinois office had was in processing payments.

Illinois has a strong interest in resolving legal disputes arising from deaths in this state

Another factor that the court identified in 2013 was the reasonableness of requiring an out-of-state defendant to litigate here in Illinois. One of the things that Illinois courts consider in analyzing this reasonableness item is Illinois’s “interest in resolving the dispute.” In that case, the court concluded that Illinois had “an indisputable interest in resolving litigation stemming from a fatal” accident occurring in this state.

Based on these legal rules, reasonableness was a winning argument for the families in the Bloomington crash, as well. An airplane accident had occurred in Illinois that had killed seven Illinois citizens. Illinois definitely had an interest resolving a lawsuit arising from that crash and those deaths.

A defendant’s attempts to throw a variety of legal hurdles in your path as you seek just compensation for the injuries you suffered is an often inevitably part of the civil lawsuit process. To make sure you have the resources you need to overcome those hurdles and achieve success in a plane crash case, reach out to the skilled Chicago aviation accident attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca. Our have many years of experience helping a wide variety of aviation accident and commercial vehicle accident clients achieve positive results. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.

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